Osimhen Out Of Tunisia, Algeria Friendly Games

Victor Osimhen of Napoli scores against Italian second division side, Teramo on September 4, 2020.
File photo: Victor Osimhen of Napoli scores against Italian second division side, Teramo on September 4, 2020.

 

Napoli forward, Victor Osimhen, has been ruled out of the Super Eagles team for the friendly games against Tunisia and Algeria. 

“Victor Osimhen has been excused from SuperEagles’ games against Algeria and Tunisia,” the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF)  tweeted on its handle, Sunday morning as Napoli imposes further travel restrictions amid the second wave of COVID-19. “His replacement is Paul Onuachu. #Team9jaStrong #SoarSuperEagles.”

 

The three-time African champions are billed to take on Algeria and Tunisia on October 9 and 13 respectively but new travel restrictions by the club mean the former U-17 World Cup winner would not be available for the games.

On Saturday, Napoli said they had tested all their players for COVID-19 but only Macedonian midfielder, Elif Elmas, was confirmed to have contracted the virus.

The club also said their players and staff were in isolation and would not be travelling for the international break.

Local authorities had told the Napoli team it was unsafe to travel and has restricted them from going outside Turin region for their league tie at the Allianz Arena on Sunday.

Osimhen joined Napoli in July for an undisclosed fee believed to be over $96 million (81.3m Euros), making the forward one of the most expensive African player of all time.

Image
Photo: [email protected] VictorOsimhen9

 

“Welcome to Napoli, Victor, ” the club said on their Twitter handle while confirming the arrival of the Nigerian from French side, Lille.

Osimhen’s move to the Gli Azzurri trumps the prize Arsenal paid for Ivory Coast forward, Nicolas Pepe last year.

Last term, the former Charleroi (from where he moved to France) man scored 18 goals in all games for Lille and has been linked with a move to Naples in recent times.

His stellar showing for the French side saw him winning the Lille Player of the Season just as he made it to Ligue 1’s team for the 2019/2020 campaign.

 

Pirlo Vs Gattuso: Old Team Mates Face Off As Napoli Tackle Juventus

File Photo: Gattuso-Pirlo

 

In a highly-anticipated first clash between two former stars of Italy and AC Milan now chasing coaching glory, Gennaro Gattuso’s Napoli test their ‘Scudetto’ ambitions at Andrea Pirlo’s Juventus on Sunday.

Both won the 2006 World Cup for Italy and spent a decade as AC Milan teammates, winning two Serie A titles and two Champions League crowns together.

It is a clash which Inter Milan coach Antonio Conte can’t wait to see.

“Juve v Napoli? I’ll enjoy watching it,” said Conte, who coached Pirlo as a player to the first three of Juventus’s current run of nine Serie A titles.

“Napoli are underestimated a lot,” continued Conte.

“They are an excellent team, they are among the favourites for the Scudetto.

“They have a staff and a very good coach who will make life difficult for everyone.”

Gattuso begins his second season on the Napoli bench having taken over from Carlo Ancelotti last December. The club finished seventh but qualified for the Europa League after winning the Italian Cup, their first trophy in six years.

Former Glasgow Rangers defensive midfielder Gattuso has been coaching since he hung up his boots in 2013, with the bulk of his footballing career spent at AC Milan.

He had stints at Sion, Palermo, Crete and Pisa before returning to Milan where he trained the youth team before coaching the first-team for 18 months.

The 42-year-old left Milan after the team missed the Champions League by just one point.

By contrast, Pirlo, 41, had no coaching experience before taking over from Maurizio Sarri, receiving his coaching diploma days before the season kicked off.

“Well he’s stuck now! That’s the job,” quipped Gattuso on hearing Pirlo’s appointment.

“He’s lucky to be starting at Juventus, but this profession is one where a great playing career is not enough. You have to study, to work hard, and you don’t get much sleep.”

– Coronavirus tests –

This season Gattuso has the ambitious task of winning a first Serie A title since the days of Napoli legend Diego Maradona in 1990.

Pirlo is counting on extending Juventus’s winning streak to 10 consecutive Serie A titles.

Napoli are top of the Italian league table after two games with a win over Parma, and a 6-0 hammering of Genoa last time out.

Pirlo’s Juventus is a team “under construction”. They were held 2-2 by Roma last weekend.

As Napoli sit equal on maximum points with Inter Milan, Atalanta, Hellas Verona and AC Milan, Juve have four points.

Napoli are awaiting the results of a second round of coronavirus tests as last week’s opponents Genoa had 16 positive tests this week, including 12 players.

Genoa’s game against Torino on Saturday has been postponed.

A first round of swabs at Napoli came back negative, with the results of the second series of tests expected on Friday.

Inter, who have scored nine goals in their first two matches, take on a Lazio hurting after their 4-1 defeat to Atalanta in the Stadio Olimpico.

“Inter have been considered an outsider for many years, now we have acquired credibility,” said Conte of last season’s runenrs-up.

High-scoring Atalanta next host Cagliari with Hellas Verona looking for a third consecutive win at Parma.

Roma head for Udinese looking for their first win, with the north-easterners reeling after losing to promoted La Spezia, who next challenge AC Milan.

Fixtures (all times GMT)

Friday

Fiorentina v Sampdoria (1845)

Saturday

Sassuolo v Crotone (1300), Udinese v Roma (1845)

Postponed: Genoa v Torino

Sunday

Atalanta v Cagliari (1030), Benevento v Bologna, Lazio v Inter Milan, Parma v Verona (all 1300), AC Milan v Spezia (1600), Juventus v Napoli (1845)

-AFP

Everton Boost Midfield Force, Sign Allan From Napoli

(FILES) In this file photo taken on October 1, 2019 Napoli’s Brazilian defender Allan controls the ball during a training session at the Fenix Stadium in Genk. JOHN THYS / AFP

 

Everton secured the first of an expected trio of midfield signings on Saturday with the arrival of Brazilian international Allan on a three-year deal from Napoli for a reported £22 million ($29 million).

The 29-year-old is reunited with Toffees boss Carlo Ancelotti, with whom he worked at the Serie A club.

Everton are also close to reuniting Ancelotti with Colombian star James Rodriguez for a third time after spells together at Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, while a fee has reportedly been agreed with Watford for Abdoulaye Doucoure.

Allan, who made more than 200 appearances in five years at Napoli, admitted he could not turn down the opportunity to work with Ancelotti again.

“It is a club with a rich history in the Premier League, has real ambition and then there is Professor Ancelotti. He has done everything possible to bring me here,” Allan told Everton TV.

“It is the size of the club and the name of the coach which means you don’t think twice about coming to Everton.

“I hope, like I have done in my entire career, I contribute with my performances together with my team-mates and that I put in some great games, great performances and win important things.”

Osimhen Scores Second Hat-Trick For Napoli

Victor Osimhen of Napoli scores against Italian second division side, Teramo on September 4, 2020.
Victor Osimhen of Napoli scores against the Italian second division side, Teramo on September 4, 2020.

 

Super Eagles striker Victor Osimhen on Friday scored his second hat-trick for Napoli after two pre-season games.

Osimhen’s hat-trick was pivotal for Napoli’s preseason victory over Italian second division side, Teramo.

He scored in the fourth, 61st, and 65th minute, taking his tally to six for Napoli.

Mexican Hirving Lozano scored in the 14th minute to add to Napoli’s rout of the lower division side.

Osimhen signed for Napoli after the Serie A side splashed out a club-record fee of up to 80 million euros ($94.6 million) to entice him from French outfit Lille.

He is expected to light up the Serie A when the season begins on September 19.

Napoli will kick off its season in an away match against Parma on September 20 as the club seeks to return to the Champions League.

Champions League: Barcelona Defeat Napoli To Set Up Bayern Meet

Barcelona's Uruguayan forward Luis Suarez (rear R) celebrates with teammates after scoring penalty kick during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 second leg football match between FC Barcelona and Napoli at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on August 8, 2020. LLUIS GENE / AFP
Barcelona’s Uruguayan forward Luis Suarez (rear R) celebrates with teammates after scoring penalty kick during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 second leg football match between FC Barcelona and Napoli at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on August 8, 2020.
LLUIS GENE / AFP

 

Lionel Messi scored a brilliant solo goal as Barcelona saw off Napoli on Saturday but they are likely to need something even more special from their captain to beat Bayern Munich in the quarter-finals.

Messi’s weaving run and finish came between an early Clement Lenglet header and a Luis Suarez penalty, also won by Messi, as Barca stormed into a 3-0 lead in the first half at Camp Nou.

But Lorenzo Insigne gave Napoli hope just before the interval and an unconvincing second period from Barcelona left them hanging on for a 3-1 win on the night, 4-2 on aggregate.

“A second goal would have given them a feeling of euphoria that can hurt you,” said Barca coach Quique Setien.

“It’s normal to get a little nervous.”

In winning the penalty, Messi took a heavy kick from Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly and needed treatment.

“It was a heavy knock,” said Setien. “It will have to be treated but I don’t think there is a problem.”

After finishing five points behind Real Madrid in La Liga, Barca resumed in the Champions League with doubts hanging over the form of the team and the future of their coach.

Setien said on Friday he had not considered resigning but failure in Europe, after a turbulent domestic campaign, would likely take the decision out of his hands.

Victory against Napoli eases the pressure but the performance will not inspire confidence, even with Messi seemingly rejuvenated after three weeks rest.

Napoli, whose own league season only finished last weekend, should have had the advantage of rhythm but a disastrous opening half an hour left them with too much to do.

Koulibaly, linked with a move to several elite European clubs this summer, endured a particularly disappointing night.

Yet Barcelona will have to improve significantly to match Bayern, who advanced after putting seven past Chelsea over two legs and are arguably favourites to win the tournament.

“It’s going to be very complicated,” admitted Setien ahead of the quarter-final on Friday.

Messi now has four goals in his last three games and in a one-off match in Lisbon, the Argentinian is capable of anything.

But Bayern have their own trump card in Robert Lewandowski and a more complete team that makes them heavy favourites to reach the semis.

Napoli began an eventful first half by hitting the post as Dries Mertens went close with a miskicked half-volley, only for Lenglet to head in for Barca from Ivan Rakitic’s corner after nine minutes.

Messi made it two after a barnstorming run in which he fell to the ground only to dart back up and bundle his way through three Napoli defenders before curling into the far corner.

He thought he had another after finishing off a delightful pass from the outside of Frenkie de Jong’s right foot but it was ruled out, the ball feathering Messi’s arm as he controlled it.

But he could not be surpressed for long, harrying the unsuspecting Koulibaly in the penalty area and poking the ball away from his opponent, who was already swinging to clear and succeeded only in bringing Messi down.

Messi needed treatment and deferred the penalty to Suarez, who drove into the top corner but Napoli made it 3-1 deep in first half stoppage time, Insigne scoring from the spot after Rakitic barged into Mertens.

Napoli needed two more to progress and enjoyed their best spell early in the second period.

They might have tested Barcelona’s nerves if Arkadiusz Milik’s header 10 minutes from the end had stood while Hirving Lozano’s late header hit the foot of the post.

Barca were relieved to hear the whistle.

 

AFP

Napoli Sign Super Eagles Striker Osimhen

Osimhen
Osimhen won the 2015 U-17 World Cup with Nigeria. Photo: [email protected] SSC Napoli.

 

Italian side, Napoli have signed Super Eagles striker, Victor Osimhen, the club confirmed in a statement on Friday. 

“Welcome to Napoli, Victor, ” the club said on their Twitter handle while confirming the arrival of the Nigerian from the French side, Lille.

 

“Can’t wait to put on this iconic jersey, thank you for the warm welcome @sscnapoli #forzanapolisempre,” the player tweeted following the confirmation of his switch.

 


Although no official fee was announced for the signing of the 21-year-old striker, several sources claim the deal is worth over $96 million (81.3m Euros) which makes the forward one of the most expensive African player of all time.

READ ALSO: Arteta Hopes FA Cup Win Convinces Aubameyang To Stay At Arsenal

Osimhen’s move to the Gli Azzurri trumps the prize Arsenal paid for Ivory Coast forward, Nicolas Pepe last year.

Last term, the former Charleroi (from where he moved to France) man scored 18 goals in all games for Lille and has been linked with a move to Naples in recent times.

His stellar showing for the French side saw him winning the Lille Player of the Season just as he made it to Ligue 1’s team for the 2019/2020 campaign.

 

Osimhen
File photo of Osimhen playing for Nigeria at the 2015 U-17 World Cup.

 

The Edo-born footballer came into limelight after he helped the Nigerian U-17 team win the 2015 World Cup in Chile, scooping the Golden Boot and Silver Ball awards.

During the competition, he struck 10 times after which he bagged Africa’s Youth Player of the Year for 2015.

 

 

He immediately joined German side, Wolfsburg following his exploits in the cadet competition, turning down Arsenal of England.

Thereafter, he teamed up with Charleroi in Belgium, initially on loan, after a barren spell with the Bundesliga outfit.

Since his debut for the senior national team in June 2017, he has played 10 matches and bagged four goals.

 

 

Napoli Beat Inter To Reach Italian Cup Final As Mertens Breaks Record

Napoli's Senegalese defender Kalidou Koulibaly (L) works around Inter Milan's Belgian forward Romelu Lukaku during the Italian Cup (Coppa Italia) semi-final second leg football match Napoli vs Inter Milan on June 13, 2020 at the San Paolo stadium in Naples, played behind closed doors as the country gradually eases its lockdown aimed at curbing the spread of the COVID-19 infection, caused by the novel coronavirus. Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP
Napoli’s Senegalese defender Kalidou Koulibaly (L) works around Inter Milan’s Belgian forward Romelu Lukaku during the Italian Cup (Coppa Italia) semi-final second leg football match Napoli vs Inter Milan on June 13, 2020. Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP

 

Dries Mertens fired Napoli to the Italian Cup final on Saturday after netting the goal which gave his side a 2-1 aggregate semi-final win over Inter Milan and made him the club’s all-time top scorer.

Napoli will face Juventus in Wednesday’s final in Rome thanks to Belgium forward Mertens, who slotted home his 122nd goal for Napoli four minutes before half-time to make the score 1-1 on the night and give them overall victory after a 1-0 first-leg win at the San Siro in February.

Christian Eriksen had levelled the tie for Inter straight from a corner in the second minute and the away side continued to dominate the first half, but Mertens ended a lightning counter-attack to put the hosts through at the Stadio San Paolo.

Mertens, 33, overtakes Marek Hamsik and moves seven clear of Diego Maradona, who scored 115 goals in all competitions and won two Serie A titles and the UEFA Cup over his seven tumultuous years in southern Italy.

Although there were no fans in the stands at the San Paolo, public broadcaster RAI reported that a small number of Napoli fans that had gathered outside the San Paolo set off fireworks throughout half-time in celebration of Merten’s goal.

Mertens moved to Napoli from PSV Eindhoven in 2013 and has become so settled in Naples that fans have nicknamed him ‘Ciro’, a hugely common Neapolitan name.

Napoli will take on Juve at the Italian capital’s Stadio Olimpico after Maurizio Sarri’s side squeezed past AC Milan on away goals following a 0-0 draw in Turin on Friday, Italy’s first competitive football match since the country become the global coronavirus epicentre.

As with Friday’s match, Napoli and Inter players gathered around the centre circle for a minute’s silence in tribute to the more than 34,000 people who have died in Italy as a result of COVID-19.

There will likely be a big television audience for two of Italy’s best-supported clubs.

According to Italian media, some 8.3 million people tuned into RAI to watch Friday’s goalless draw at Juve’s Allianz Stadium, the largest TV audience for a football match this season.

Griezmann Rescues Barcelona First Leg Draw At Napoli

Barcelona’s French forward Antoine Griezmann (R) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 first-leg football match between SSC Napoli and FC Barcelona at the San Paolo Stadium in Naples on February 25, 2020. Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP

 

Antoine Griezmann rescued a 1-1 draw for Barcelona at Napoli in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie on Tuesday.

Frenchman Griezmann struck just before the hour mark for Barca in Naples after Dries Mertens had put the hosts ahead in the 30th minute with his 121st Napoli goal, equalling the club all-time top scorer Marek Hamsik.

Barcelona ended the game with 10 men after Arturo Vidal was sent off with two minutes to go after picking up two yellow cards, following an angry clash with Napoli defender Mario Rui.

Lionel Messi failed to score on his first appearance at the Stadio San Paolo where Napoli legend Diego Maradona reigned supreme three decades ago.

The 32-year-old Messi scored four goals at the weekend in Barcelona’s 5-0 win over Eibar that put the Spaniards back the top of La Liga, but could not add to his 114 Champions League goals.

The clash was the first between the two teams and also a Champions League debut for Barcelona coach Quique Setien and Napoli’s Gennaro Gattuso, who both took over after the group stage.

Messi fired over on nine minutes after combining well with Frenkie de Jong but Gattuso’s side piled the pressure on the Catalans.

Their pressing paid off on the half-hour mark, with Piotr Zielinski breaking free down the right before finding Mertens, who curled a magnificent finish past Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

He equalled Hamsik’s record and is now six goals clear of Maradona, but was forced off in the second half after a Sergio Busquets tackle for which the Spaniard will be suspended for the second leg.

Barcelona did not waste much time in getting on level terms, as Messi and Busquets combined to send Semedo into the box in the 57th minute.

The Portuguese full-back crossed low for Griezmann to power home right-footed.

Ter Stegen denied Lorenzo Insigne with Jose Callejon also missing a chance for a second, as did Messi with eight minutes to go.

Vidal was sent off after a sliding tackle on Rui before appearing to headbutt the Napoli defender.

The Chilean will also miss the return leg at the Camp Nou on March 18.

AFP

They Have A Strong Team, Says Sarri Ahead Of Napoli Clash

Juventus’ Italian coach Maurizio Sarri looks on during the Italian Cup (Coppa Italia) round of 16 football match Juventus vs Udinese on January 15, 2020 at the Juventus stadium in Turin. AFP

 

Juventus coach Maurizio Sarri said he expects an emotional return to his former club Napoli on Sunday as Lazio and Roma prepare for a derby clash in Serie A after both capital-city sides exited the Italian Cup during the week.

Sarri missed Juventus’ home game against Napoli with pneumonia in August and Sunday’s game at the Stadio San Paolo will be his first since leaving the club in 2018 before his move to Chelsea.

“It will be a tremendously difficult game, emotionally it will be particularly special. My relationship with Naples and above all the city was strong,” said Sarri, after Juve reached the Italian Cup semi-finals with a 3-1 win over Roma on Wednesday.

Juventus are top of the league with a four-point lead on second-placed Inter Milan, but Napoli — Serie A runners-up in the past two seasons — are struggling in 11th position, 14 points off the Champions League places.

“We must not look at their position in the table,” Sarri continued. “They have a strong team. They are going through a difficult time but have good players.

“There are three points at stake.”

Napoli lost 4-3 in the reverse fixture this season.

But the team are a shadow of the eye-catching side Sarri left in May 2018 to be replaced by Carlos Ancelotti.

Ancelotti helped the team maintain their runners-up position last campaign but was replaced at the troubled side by Gennaro Gattuso last month.

Gattuso has lost four of his five Serie A games in charge and the club have not won at home in the league since October 19.

But they have been boosted by booking their ticket to the Italian Cup semi-finals with a 1-0 win over in-form Lazio this week.

“We played with hunger, character and the right spirit, showing real grit, something we had been lacking up till now,” said Gattuso.

“Now, of course, we need to keep it up, to climb back up the table.”

Second-placed Inter Milan are at home against sixth-placed Cagliari this weekend, after their title bid was stalled with back-to-back draws.

Lazio — on a club-record 11-match league winning streak — are third, six points behind Juventus with a game in hand, and two adrift of Inter ahead of the Rome derby.

Paulo Fonseca’s Roma are seven points behind their city rivals in the final Champions League berth.

The teams played out a 1-1 draw in the reverse fixture in September, and last season had a win each.

Simone Inzaghi’s Lazio are pushing for a first Scudetto since 2000, after crashing out of the Italian Cup, which they won last season.

Flagging Atalanta, in fifth, travel to Torino, while Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s eighth-placed AC Milan visit Brescia on Friday looking to edge closer to the Europa League places.

Brescia striker Mario Balotelli will miss the game against his former club after being handed a two-match ban for arguing with the referee last weekend.

One to watch

Atalanta’s Duvan Zapata is desperate to end his three-match goal drought since returning from injury.

The 28-year-old scored six league goals in seven games before being sidelined for three months with a thigh injury.

It is the former Sampdoria forward’s longest stretch without scoring since his first goal for Atalanta back in November 2018.

Key stats

50 – Atalanta’s league goals scored in 20 games

27 – Napoli’s points deficit to Juventus

23 – Ciro Immobile’s league goals for Lazio this season

12 – Ronaldo’s goals in last eight games

3 – Maurizio Sarri’s seasons as Napoli coach

Fixtures (all times GMT)

Friday

Brescia v AC Milan (1945)

Saturday

SPAL v Bologna (1400), Fiorentina v Genoa (1700), Torino v Atalanta (1945)

Sunday

Inter Milan v Cagliari (1130), Hellas Verona v Lecce, Parma v Udinese, Sampdoria v Sassuolo (1400), Roma v Lazio (1700), Napoli v Juventus (1945)

AFP

Napoli Appoint Gattuso After Sacking Ancelotti

(FILES) In this file photo taken on April 28, 2019 Milan’s Italian coach Gennaro Gattuso gestures during the Italian Serie A football match between Torino and AC Milan at the Grande Torino stadium in Turin. World Cup winner Gennaro Gattuso was named new Napoli coach, the club announced on December 11, 2019.
MARCO BERTORELLO / AFP

 

Gennaro Gattuso on Wednesday took over as coach of Napoli after Carlo Ancelotti was sacked despite guiding them to the Champions League last 16, the troubled Serie A side announced.

Gattuso, who left AC Milan at the end of last season after failing to qualify for the Champions League, takes charge of a club who sit seventh in Serie A.

“The aim is to recoup points and get back into the Champions League positions,” said Gattuso, who won the 2006 World Cup as a player with Italy.

“We need to work hard, win back points and come through this tricky period.”

READ ALSO: Liverpool Hungry For European Glory Despite Premier League Push

The 41-year-old replaces a friend in Ancelotti, who coached Gattuso to two Champions Leagues and one Serie A title over eight years in charge of seven-time European champions Milan.

“Ancelotti is like a father to me,” he added. “He’s always been close to me and supported me. He’s won it all and I still have a lot to prove.”

Former Rangers midfielder Gattuso joins Napoli at a difficult time despite their arrival in Monday’s draw for the knockout stages of Europe’s top competition.

Last season’s Serie A runners-up sit 17 points behind league leaders Inter Milan.

More worryingly they are eight behind fourth-placed Cagliari, who hold the final spot for next season’s Champions League, and have been engulfed in a row between the players and owner Aurelio De Laurentiis.

De Laurentiis ordered the players into a week-long training camp after defeat by big rivals Roma early last month — a decision with which Ancelotti publicly disagreed — but they rebelled and were hit with a massive fine that incurred the wrath of Players’ union FIFPRO.

Media reports in the United Kingdom suggest both Arsenal and Everton are keen to hire Ancelotti, who has won three Champions Leagues as a coach, after sacking Unai Emery and Marco Silva respectively.

AFP

Napoli Sack Ancelotti Despite Champions League Victory

Napoli’s Italian head coach Carlo Ancelotti attends the UEFA Champions League Group E football match Napoli vs Genk on December 10, 2019 at the San Paolo stadium in Naples. Tiziana FABI / AFP

 

Carlo Ancelotti has been sacked by Napoli despite taking the Serie A side to the last 16 of the Champions League on Tuesday with a 4-0 win over Genk.

“Napoli has decided to relieve Carlo Ancelotti of his role as first team coach,” the Italian side said in a statement.

Tuesday’s win over Genk, which saw Napoli finish second in Group E, one point behind Liverpool, broke a nine-match winless run that came amid dressing room unrest and friction between the club, Ancelotti and the players.

Former AC Milan manager Gennaro Gattuso is the favourite to take over at Napoli, who finished second behind champions Juventus last season but are miles off the pace this year.

They sit seventh in the Italian top flight on 21 points, a whopping 17 points behind league leaders Inter Milan and more worryingly eight behind fourth-placed Cagliari, who hold the final spot for next season’s Champions League.

On Monday Ancelotti told reporters that “a coach’s suitcase is always ready” ahead of Tuesday’s match, and as speculation ramped up over the 60-year-old’s future at the southern club he ruled out stepping down after Tuesday’s win.

“Resignation? I have never resigned in my life and I never will,” he said. “My future? The team management will make its assessment.

The club has been in turmoil this season as club owner Aurelio De Laurentiis sank into a bitter row with his players following a series of disappointing results.

The squad refused to bow to De Laurentiis’ demand they be confined to a week-long training camp in November, reportedly receiving a collective deduction to their wages of 2.5 million euros ($2.7 million) for their disobedience.

Union FIFPro said they would back the players against “further abuse and intimidation”, calling De Laurentiis’ decision to fine his squad “unjustified”.

Ancelotti, who won three Champions League titles as a coach, twice with AC Milan and once with Real Madrid, replaced Maurizio Sarri in July 2018.

He guided the team to a runners-up finish in Serie A last season, when they missed out on the Champions League last 16 on goal difference to eventual winners Liverpool.

“I can’t pretend, the team doesn’t give what it could give,” Ancelotti said on Monday.

“In Europe, we have seen another Napoli, the one I would like to see in the league as well. I am looking for solutions to get out of this difficult period,” he added.

They are without a win in seven Serie A games since October 19 and next play Parma on Saturday.

AFP

Napoli Thump Genk To Reach Champions League Last 16

Napoli’s Polish forward Arkadiusz Milik (3rdR) celebrates with Napoli’s Spanish forward Jose Callejon (L) after opening the scoring during the UEFA Champions League Group E football match Napoli vs Genk on December 10, 2019 at the San Paolo stadium in Naples.
Tiziana FABI / AFP

 

Arkadiusz Milik fired Napoli into the knockout stages of the Champions League on Tuesday with a first half hat-trick that helped see off Genk 4-0.

Pole Milik opened the scoring in the third minute and struck twice more before the break to end a nine-match winless run and ensure passage from Group E in second place, a point behind Liverpool.

READ ALSO: Liverpool Survive Salzburg Test To Reach Champions League Last 16

Dries Mertens scored the other goal from the penalty spot with 15 minutes remaining.

AFP